Factors determining medical students’ experience in an independent research year during the medical program

Kerry Uebel, Maha Pervaz Iqbal, Jane Carland, Greg Smith, Md Saiful Islam, Boaz Shulruf, Sally Nathan

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Citations (Scopus)


Background: There is ongoing debate about best practice models to support active learning by encouraging medical students to conduct independent research projects. This study explored student satisfaction, experiences, and learning outcomes of a unique, mandatory research program in an Australian medical school. Methods: Students were invited to complete an anonymous survey ranking statements using Likert scales and completing open-ended questions. Factors predicting student satisfaction with the research year were analysed using a generalised linear regression model. A content analysis of open-ended questions was conducted. Results: The survey was completed in October 2019 by 117 of 252 students (46%). The majority (84%) reported satisfaction with the research year. Factors associated with satisfaction were research skills learnt (OR 2.782, 95% CI 1.428–5.421; p < 0.003), supervision and support (OR = 2.587, 95% CI 1.237–5.413; p < 0.012), and meaningfulness and experience (OR = 2.506, 95% CI 1.100–5.708; p < 0.029). Qualitative results confirmed support from the faculty and supervisors, perceiving their research as meaningful, and the opportunity to learn research skills were highly regarded by students. Conclusions: This study has shown that learning outcomes for basic research skills and high satisfaction rates can be achieved in a mandatory undergraduate research programme when students have dedicated time for their research, opportunities to negotiate their own project, and good support from faculty and mentors.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1471-1478
Number of pages8
JournalMedical Science Educator
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 14 Aug 2021
Externally publishedYes


  • Medical student research
  • Student satisfaction
  • Supervisor support
  • Research skills


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